“ A well chosen anthology is a complete dispensary of medicine for the more common mental disorders, and may be used as much for prevention as cure” - Irish Novelist, Robert Graves
For the independent filmmaker the decision to make an anthology piece is kind of a no brainer. Money is scarce and anthologies allow filming to be done in small cost effective chunks as opposed to having to pony up large sums of money all at once. The ease of filming for two days rather than two weeks is easier on the wallet and eliminates potential continuity issues that could arise should funding run out unexpectedly on a longer shoot. All good, provided your segments are equally strong stand alone works that happen to be harmonious with one another. This is the point at which many anthologies fail. I am happy to report that Kelly and Sumner's Gallery of Fear, makes the grade with all three segments and the required connecting wraparound.
Opening with a decidedly European flair, the story begins as internationally renowned art critic “Roberta Van Houten” (Debbie Rochon), is chauffeured by David Marancik, through the twisting back roads of New Jersey. Rochon, secret weapon of more films than can be counted, once again applies her chameleon charm to become the snotty Roberta. Marancik, gripping the wheel as if he wished it were Roberta's neck, rushes his bitchy charge to a date with fate. The artwork Roberta has come to see represents a grand guignol-esque trip through a veritable romper room of wrong.
Spiraling through a perverted looking glass directly into the award winning By Her Hand She Draws You Down, Anthony G. Sumner's supernatural tale of an artist struggling with a different kind of hunger, cleaned house at most of the festivals where it has been featured. Starring Zoe Daelman Chlanda (I'll Bury You Tomorrow, Pink Eye), and Jerry Murdock (The Blood Shed, Psycho Street), By Her Hand She Draws You Down is a quiet tale of terror, highlighting Chlanda and Murdock's skills in front of the camera. As a couple with more than pencil sketches motivating their activities, the two leads take advantage of the slow burn Director Sumner initiates, delivering excellent, nuanced performances. Set at the New Jersey seashore this quiet and appropriately subdued atmospheric story is the perfect opening tale and wastes no time setting the stage for the action to follow.
As Roberta drinks her way through the empty gallery the next painting unveiled is “Down The Drain”, Directed by Alan Rowe Kelly (I'll Bury You Tomorrow, The Blood Shed). Once again featuring Jerry Murdock. Down The Drain takes the anthology in a more humorous direction featuring Murdock as “Stanley Moffet”, a harried substitute teacher. Remember how you treated subs? Let's face it, the substitute position is one that should come with hazardous duty pay, and nobody knows this more than Stanley. Abused at school by learning disabled douchebags, and tormented at home by a Snooki-like troll of an ex-wife, Raine Brown (Satan's Playground, 100 Tears), Stanley nears his breaking point. Sinking into depression, Stanley begins to receive messages from drain pipes. As we watch Stanley learn to take control of his life with a little help from a new friend, Director Kelly's sense of humor is quite evident, providing the anthology some nice levity before things begin to get nasty in the final segment. Remember to keep an eye on Murdock, the only actor present in all three tales. His performances throughout run the gamut from quiet desperation to psychotic rage.
Before Roberta's opening is finished, she must first survive a tale of intolerance taken to the extreme in Alan Rowe Kelly's award winning, A Far Cry From Home. While By Her Hand... examined the supernatural, and Down The Drain plumbed the pipes for humor, A Far Cry From Home takes the film to a much darker and gruesome place. Here in the backwoods Kelly pulls all the stops and lets the audience have it with some potent violence. The tale of a same sex couple making a wrong turn is classic Deliverance style mayhem served piping hot through a lens of religious zealotry. When “Lane” (Alan Rowe Kelly), and “Kayle” (Don Money), decide to tackle relationship issues at an isolated cabin they inadvertently draw the ire of “Preacher Man” (Terry West), and his band of inbred yokels hell bent on ridding the earth of anything (they consider) impure. Can you guess where that puts a homosexual couple? Rhetorical questions aside, things get nasty courtesy of some award winning SPFX from, Benzy, Henry Borrielo, and Michael Todd Schneider, all of whom join Jerry Murdock in tormenting the hapless couple in some profoundly disturbing methods. Tied together by an impressive score from Tom Burns, A Far Cry From Home, is a grisly, amusing, and harrowing trip worth taking.